Guitar Q & A with Don Felder

If you listen very closely to Don’s tinkering in the above video from the 1990s, you may recognize the raw melody of a song which ended up on his latest solo album, ROAD TO FOREVER (2012). Can you tell which one it is?

. . .

Don, how many guitars do you own?

I suppose I have around 300 or so. One I’ve had the longest is one I got when I was about fifteen.

Which of your guitars at home is at arm’s length?

Since I have a studio in my home I keep about 20 guitars at arms length. One or two in every room. The two that I have in hand most often are a Taylor Acoustic and a Gibson Les Paul. I use the Taylor for writing and acoustic work as well as for practice before I go out to do shows and I use the Les Paul to work out most of the electric guitar parts in the studio. Once I have them sketched out I’ll change guitar combinations until the balance between all the guitar parts fits well.

Do you maintain your guitars yourself or do you have them regularly checked by a technician?

I do very little maintenance on my own guitars. I design and have them custom built in some cases. I have a personal technician (guitar tech) as well as two master luthiers here in LA that do more custom work on my instruments for me. Custom wiring, fret jobs, paint jobs, routing hidden cavities, etc. are very specialized skills and I leave those talents to the pros.

What was your first priority as far as choosing the gear/amp set-up when recording Hotel California?

I used basically the same electric guitar setup on HC that I used on One Of These Nights. I wanted to use a recognizable sound/tone that would remain somewhat consistent from album to album. I used an entirely different setup for the acoustic 12 string part. It was a Takamine acoustic 12 string with a DeArmond pickup in it that was run into a Leslie and recorded both acoustically and from the turning Leslie in stereo. It results in a very unique acoustic sound.

If you were designing your own guitar, what would be the three most important features it should have and why?

The three most important things in an electric guitar for me are TONE, TONE, TONE. I can fix action, replace the neck, bridge etc. but if the TONE is not good I’ll pass no matter what it LOOKS like.

What expectations do you have of yourself as far as continuing to develop as a musician?

We are all continually developing as humans. This is reflected in the music we write and how we express ourselves in our music. I hope I will continue to develop both as a human and as a musician for the rest of my life.

Which piece of musical equipment would you like to see under your Christmas tree this year?

I would like to see the red Gibson 335 that was stolen from me in Florida in 1965. That would be a great Christmas gift and make me very happy!

Heavy Metal sounds like a fun song to play. Does this resurgence in its popularity mean we’ll be seeing you out playing it live more often?

I have been playing that song in my solo show for over a year now. I used to hear the fans at Eagles concerts yell it out and thought people might like to hear it. It goes over very well.

Were you aware at the time you wrote the song [...Heavy Metal] which sequences in the original film would accompany it and did this have an effect on your composing it?

I wrote this song based on the title opening footage. There is a Corvette flying through space and an explosion in the end of the scene. The lyrics follow the opening footage. I had no idea where they would use the song but thought that the opening set up the entire film very well.

Do you remember which guitar model and effects you used laying down the original recording 28 years ago?

I used a 59 Les Paul with a Fender tweed deluxe amp. I also had an old echoplex and a boss chorus unit in line.

What was your mixing secret in order to get that “spacey” sound on the album track?

We recorded and mixed the track at Westlake recording studios in Hollywood. Michael Jackson was recording with Quincy Jones in the studio next door. We used some of the echo units (EMT’s) that they had brought in for their session.

How do you best achieve this unique sound playing the song live?

I use very close to the same equipment that I used on the record. It’s pretty easy to recreate the sound and effect.

Would you be open to making the sheet music or guitar tabs available to guitar players over the internet?

I prefer not to release these over the internet as they are controlled by my publishing company which is distributed by Warner Brothers Music. They are copyrighted and can not be distributed over the internet that way.

Jeff asks: More than 40 years ago, I played in a rock ‘n roll band. I played a Fender bass, but my first love was definitely rhythm guitar. I would like to take up the guitar again, and would appreciate your recommendation as to what guitar I might select. My wife’s last name is Taylor, so I may be partial to that brand.

As for a guitar suggestion I can only say that I use Taylor acoustic guitars in my show, in my home and in the studio. They make a great product and you won’t be disappointed.

Phil asks: I just love the song Hotel California since it came out. Since the first time I heard it and seen the video, I wanted to be like Mr.Felder. I wanted a doubleneck so bad but could never afford one. Well in June of 06 I got cancer (Hodgkins Lymphoma stage 4) and my mother told me that if I beat it, she would buy me one, so I beat it. I got a Epiphone (Cherry). Now I can play it like my hero. My question is this. My Epiphone has a single cord input, and I noticed that Mr. Felder’s has two. I know he has a Gibson. I’ve seen doubleneck Gibsons before and they don’t have two. Does he have them specially made? Thank you. A huge Don Felder fan, Phil V.

Phil, the first double neck I used I personally drilled another hole in it to add a second output jack. Then I rewired it so that one neck goes out one output and the other goes out the second. The output changes with the neck selector switch. I run the 12 string neck into a echo unit and a leslie and the 6 string neck into my pedal board and then into a RI Fender deluxe amp.Congratulations on beating Hodgkins Lymphoma. God bless you and good luck.

Do you regularly practice playing pedal steel, mandolin and/or banjo?

I play pedal steel now and then. I break it out and work on it for several days before I have to use it on a session. I don’t play it as a regular part of my daily routine. The same for mandolin.

H. Hodges asks, “What kind of picks do you use?”

I use Herco gold picks (the scratchy side) for electric and Fender medium picks for acoustic.

Don, many Felder fans searching the site want to know what your amp/effects are. What are they?

I used to use an echoplex (tape echo) and a Boss stereo chorus. Today I have a pedalboard that has been custom built here in L.A. which incorporates two Boss echo pedals, a Boss chorus, a wah-wah, an overdrive pedal and a wireless rig.

If you were to author your own guitar instruction book, how would the back cover read?

I guess I’ll have to write that just before my first instruction book is published! Don’t know when that will be right now.”

Can you give us a sneak peek as to some of the styles you’ve got planned for your upcoming CD?

More Felder music. Not sure how to stylize it or what you’d call it…..just more of my music.

What musical item would you give a loved-one this Christmas and why?

That would depend on the person. I’d inquire as to what sounds they like. How much time they have to play or listen. I’d suit the musical item to that person’s likes and needs. If they always wanted to play an instrument, I’d give them that instrument. If they wanted a new ipod, then I’d give them that. A gift should be very personal and aimed at the individual person’s wants, needs and likes.

David F. wants to know: Have you ever used a compressor/sustainer pedal? If so, why would you use one and what impact do they have on guitar tone. I am a guitar player and have fiddled with them, but never really “got it.”

I have never used a compressor or sustainer pedal on record. I’ve tried several times to find a way to use them but have always walked away disappointed with the results. The only people I know who use[d] them are Lowell George and Bonnie Raitt to get that long clean sustain for slide. Lowell would use two 1176 limiters in succession before the amp. I think Bonnie learned it from Lowell.

Some of the tones you have used over the years with the Eagles seem like they might have been generated with a Mesa/Boogie amp. Is there any truth to that, or have your amps been modified to have similar overdrive functionality when you wanted it?

I have 2 Mesa Boogie amps but never use them. I’ve had them since the 70′s when they first came out but found them too loud and not a TRUE tone to my ear. I have modified a few amps over the years but always go back to finding a great sounding amp that works for a certain guitar sound (Strat, Gretsch, Gibson etc.) and setting the amp for that guitar. It’s nearly impossible for an amp to deliver all the different tones from so many types of guitars and pickups well. I find it best to find a great sounding amp that doesn’t drive you out of the room with volume and find a tone on it that will work with a certain guitar. I you don’t find anything great MOVE ON!

Mike asks, “What are your favorite pickups for a Fender stratocaster?”

I either hand wire them myself at the custom shop at Seymour Duncan or have MJ, the head of the custom shop, make them for me.

From Jennifer: What’s your favorite color for a guitar?

I don’t really have a favorite color. I love beautiful wood but paint jobs are cool, too.

I’m a fellow guitar player and I’d just like to say I LOVE your melody lines in every song you do. They feel/sound fresh and they’re very inspiring. My question involves the classical guitar you used during the “Hell Freezes Over” tour and the song “Hotel California.” I’m curious to know the make of the guitar and what strings you used for it. If you recommend any brand of strings for a classical, that would be great help too. Thank you, Sarah V.

Sarah, it was a Takamine with CP-132 SC Nylon strings. As far as strings for a classical go, I’d recommend SAVAREZ.

What gauge of strings do you use for an electric and acoustic guitar?

I use Ernie Ball Slinkys (10′s) on my stardard tuning electrics and Ernie Ball (11′s) on my E-flat or slide-tuned guitars.

You specifically mention your solo in the “Sad Cafe” as a personal fave…I too love that piece of music and can still remember how THRILLED I was when I first learned to play it! What set up did you use on that song to get such a beautiful tone and feel? Thanks, Bill M.

It was my 1964 D-35 Martin with a U87 microphone.

John dropped us a mail asking how you got the cool sax sound (distortion and compression) on the lead solo to “One of These Nights?

I just plugged in and turned everything to 10. We put two limiters (side-chain) on the mic in the studio.

Mark wants to know whether or not you modified your Tweed Deluxe with different tubes or speakers.

No, it’s just a stock Fender tweed deluxe.

Ken C. asks, “What specific pedals do you use for the effects on One of These Nights and Hotel California?”

For “Hotel” on stage I use a Boss stereo chorus, Boss echo and an OCD overdrive pedal on the six string neck. I use a boss echo and a leslie for the 12 string neck. The guitar is custom-wired with two output jacks so that when I switch necks it switches outputs to different amps.

Hello from Spain. I have a guitar from a customer who acquired it in Florida at antique shop. She was told the guitar at one time belonged to Don Felder. I’ve attached a photo. Can you verify or not? Thanks.

Sorry, looks like your customer was fooled. I have NEVER owned a blonde Gibson custom in my life!

Daniel was wondering how you set your delay pedals. “You mentioned you use two delays live. What settings do you use?”

I always set the slap delay times to either 1/4 notes or some meter that is in time with the song. For Victim Of Love I set it to be a 1/4 Triplet. That way the echo is in time with the song and not fighting it.

Brian asks: I’m working on recording a cover of All of You just for a hobby project since it’s my favorite song from Mr. Felder. I’ve seen that some answers are given for Takin’ a Ride but was just curious if there are any other tidbits of info on how the guitars were recorded on All of You?

Brian, the basic track and was recorded in L.A. at Westlake studios. All the overdubs were done in Miami at Criteria Studios while I was down there working on a Bee Gees record. One guitar, one amp, one or two pedals, one mic. Simple.

Items in Don’s set-up that he absolutely can’t do without
  • Gibson Les Paul
  • Fender Strat with custom pickups and wiring
  • Fender black face Deluxe or Tweed amp
  • Chorus
  • Echo unit
  • Herco custom picks
Steve let us know: I just posted the Eagles’ Good Day in Hell online as an example of a screaming slide solo, and added “standard tuning too”. Was I wrong?

No, you weren’t. Good Day In Hell was in “STANDARD” tuning.

From Jeremy in Texas: I am a fan of Don’s guitar and steel playing. I currently play an MSA Millineum pedal steel. I think he used a Sho-Bud in the 70′s and I just want to verify that, and what amps used to get that great sound.

Jeremy, I used a Sho-Bud double neck and ran it through a Roland amp with one 15-inch JBL speaker.

I recall your use of an acoustic 12-string to compose “Hotel California” for the Eagles. Have you played Breedlove or Guild 12 strings (ie. 212 with Rosewood top?) Do you ever play acoustic 12-strings with just external tube mikes – for added warmth? Bruce T., Canada

Yes, I use acoustic 12-strings. Hotel California was recorded on a Martin 12 string with a pickup in it. The pickup was run through a leslie cabinet and recorded in stereo. The acoustic was recorded on another track and placed in the center of the mix.”

I’m a huge fan. You are a great guitarist. Do you remember what Gretsch you used for Desperado and Wasted Time on the 1994 Hell Freezes Over DVD? It was black. I know you used a White Falcon for two songs but I can’t make out what the black one is. Thanks, Tony

It was a 1959 orange Gretsch “Chet Atkins” that I had refinished black. I loved the sound but hated the color.

I’m a lifetime Felder fan, and also a guitarist. I love the big guitar tone on ‘Already Gone’. What was the guitar, amp, and whatever else used to achieve that tone? Thanks, Phil P.

If I recall correctly, the “big guitar tone” on Already Gone was a Les Paul Special and a black face Fender Deluxe amp with a Vox speaker.

Austin wrote asking what pickups Don uses in his Les Pauls. “Does he use Seymour Duncan’s like in the Strats or something different?”

I use custom-wrapped Seymour Duncan pick ups in my new Les Pauls that are wrapped to my specs to equal my old Les Paul outputs.

I was wondering how the sustain at the very end of “Visions” was achieved. The notes go on and on and it sounds like they are faded out. Were any effects used to get the notes to sustain for that long? Or was it a studio effect? What guitar(s) did you use on that track? Thanks, Manny

Manny, the sustain on the end of Visions is me sitting very near the amp in the studio and using NATURAL feedback. No pedal or gain boost, just guitar pickups feeding back into themselves.

On the subject of acoustic guitars, Dave asked, “Don, I know you are a fan of Taylor Guitars (as am I), so what do you think about the Taylor T5 Hybrid Acoustic Electric? I have heard that while people love the playability, the various tone options it offers via the 5-way Taylor pickup system are a real compromise. Have you had any experience with the guitar?”
And Duke wanted to know, “What brand/model of acoustic guitar does Don play the most now? I may have read somewhere that he is playing a Collings. I am contemplating buying one myself. Thanks!”

I love Taylor acoustic guitars and even have several electrics that I use in my studio. I have not had the opportunity to play with the Hybrid models yet but I would expect them to be as good as the rest of the Taylor line. I play mostly the Taylors (model 614 CE) on stage now. They sound the best I’ve heard on stage and in the house for live shows.

I have three Collings acoustic guitars and play them on recordings in the studio. They are very well balanced and easy to record. I love the overall tone and feel of these acoustics and they fit very nicely in some tracks. I don’t carry them on the road as I don’t want to destroy the integrity of their acoustics by cutting a pickup control section into the body.

In my opinion it’s best to let great acoustic instruments remain just that and not try to make them electric.

I know that you have done a benefit concert for the victims of Katrina. I live in Louisiana (Houma) near New Orleans and got to see much of the damage up close. I was wondering when we might see a video of your benefit concert released or when you might do a concert in the New Orleans area. Thanks, Lee G.

I am certain that a video from the Katrina benefit show will never be released. I doubt seriously that I could obtain the proper licenses for the use of the songs from all the various songwriters.

Hi Don. I was wondering when did you learn to play the 5-string banjo? Was it during the Bernie Leadon era of the Eagles and did he help you out on it to get you started? Thanks for all the creativity and great music you have provided. Larry

I was forced to learn to play 5-string banjo when Bernie left the band. We were doing Midnight Flyer and in order to continue to do that song live I had to learn to play banjo. I was never as good as Bernie but managed to get by.

Manny asks, “I saw the Eagles in concert in March 1980 at the L.A. Forum. My seat was on the upper level above the right side of the stage. Since I had a side view of the stage, I could also see behind it. I was amazed by the sight of numerous guitars back there. There must have been dozens, mounted on stands. At that point during your stint with The Eagles, how many guitars did you take on tour with you?”

I really don’t recall all of the guitars I carried with me during that tour. It was such a long time ago. I would guess around 12 or so.

Allan from Australia was curious, “There’s a pic of Don playing a MIJ superstrat backstage during the Long Run tour – is it a Yamaha? Thanks, Don, for making music that to me, and friends from long ago and now very far away, lit up our nights.”

I would really have to see the picture you’re talking about in order to tell what guitar I was playing at that time!!!

Cody, among others, would like to know whether or not Don actually played the solo on the Eagles’ original recording of “I Can’t Tell You Why.”

Glenn Frey played the original solo on the record. I played it live for all the shows, on the Eagles Live album, and on the Hell Freezes Over CD and DVD.

I have read that you use Seymour Duncan pick ups in your strats. I have seen several pictures of you playing Eric Clapton strats with Lace Sensor pickups. I was just curious about what you think about the Lace Sensors. Do you like the tone or do you use them because of their resistance to 60-cycle interference? Thanks, Jon

I like the Seymour Duncan pickups in some of my strats and I also enjoy the Lace Sensor pickups as well. The Lace Sensor help a great deal with the 60-cycle hum and noise that most single coil pickups suffer from.

Don, many fans write in simply wanting to know what your effects were on “Hotel California.” Can you clue them in?

’59 Les Paul and Fender tweed deluxe amp. No effects at all.

Janne from Finland asks, “I’ve listened to your music for a long time now and also play a little guitar myself. One of my favourites is “Over You.” Are the chords for that song anywhere in written form or on the internet? I would love to learn to play that song.”

That song has not yet been released. It is copywritten and will be on my new CD. Once it is released I’m sure it will be available as sheet music.

[Ed.: "Road to Forever" was released in 2012]

Speaking of sheet music, Larry V. wanted to know where he can purchase online sheet music to “Heavy Metal.”

I honestly have no idea where you can purchase the sheet music for Heavy Metal. Sorry.

Greg asked whether or not you listen to bluegrass fingerpicking guitar. Do you?

I love to listen to bluegrass-fingerpicking guitar. I really admire that technique and find it very intricate and fascinating to listen to and try to reproduce myself. A great challenge for all players!

David wants to know, “how often do you use your ’59 Les Paul and are you happy using the Gibson custom shop replicas?”

I rarely use my original ’59 LP except on recording dates. It never goes on the road with me. I will use the Don Felder ’59 LP replica once they provide me with several. I only have one at the moment and it is in my studio now next to the original.It’s amazing how great of a job they did in reproducing my original. Color, neck size, pickups, every single scratch and ding. I’ll use two of them on the road as soon as I can.

Cheryl asked whether or not you recommend a wrist support for beginning guitar students.

I don’t know that a wrist support is needed. My advice is to just build your wrist strength by more frequent practice. If you still have trouble have a hand specialist look at it.

“I noted that you started listening and learning from Chet Atkins at an early age—I was just curious, did you use thumbpicks at the time? Do you ever use thumbpicks? Thanks,” Ed W., Texas

I tried using thumbpicks to be like Chet but found them difficult to master. I prefer to use my naked thumb and no pick to play Chet’s tracks.

Brandon wrote in asking, “What guitar and amp/effects did Don use for Life in the Fast Lane for the Hell Freezes Over tour?”

I used a Gibson ’59 Les Paul reissue and a Marshall 50-watt combo.

“Is your ’59 that you have now the same one you broke recording for Joni Mitchell? If not, when did you replace it?” – Steve K.

No, that guitar had to have a new neck put on it as it was broken beyond repair. I got the Hotel California ’59 Les Paul in early 1975 and have used it ever since.

“Don played lead guitar on the Please Come Home for Christmas ’78 release and I just aquired the test run on a white/cream 7″ disc from Amsterdam. Do you know where this was recorded? Thanks,” Don H.

That song was recorded in Miami, Florida, at Bay Shore Studios.

Urban commented, “I have seen you sometimes with a doubleneck guitar that looks like a Fender twin neck (6+12 string) guitar. Is this correct? I have searched the internet for pictures of this guitar, but I only find [...the Gibson model."]

That guitar was a custom-built guitar that I had John Curruthers in Los Angeles build for me. I wanted to hear what a Fender doubleneck would sound like. I still have it in my collection but really don’t use it.

Julia was interested in how many guitar changes there are in a show.

I make 11 guitar changes during my show.

“I´d like to know if you used a Boss Chorus ensemble in the DVD Hell Freezes Over, particulary in the song LOVE WILL KEEP US ALIVE. If not , please tell me which effect pedal you used on it. Thanks”, Eclis (Brazil)

Yes, I used a Boss Chorus on LOVE WILL KEEP US ALIVE both in the studio and on the Hell Freezes Over DVD.

Does your reissue LP come with burstbucker 1 and 2 pickups? If not what are they using and do you just use the stock pickups? -Sam W., Alabama

I think that Gibson matched my original pickups to the exact winding ohmage. Sorry, I don’t know [more] about burstbucker pickups.

Rick L. wrote in asking, “I saw your show in Niagara Falls and it was excellent as usual, 4th row heaven. My question, during Hotel California, I noticed you capo the 12 string. Is it standard tuned?”

I have to play the opening 12 string guitar parts on the higher neck of the doubleneck and I capo it on the 5th fret in standard tuning.

Being a professional guitar player, did you ever have to read music? You make it look so easy! -Pete in the U.K.

Yes. I taught myself to read and write music so I could do sessions in the studio. In the old days most sessions were written out by an arranger and you had to sight read very well in order to do session work. We’d record an entire album in a day or two max.

Eric wanted to know: What kind of Burst color is your 59 Les Paul?

My original 59 LP sunburst is a very mellow red/orange burst. It’s hard to describe!

I know you are a big fan of Chet Atkins and wonder if you have ever played with Tommy Emmanuel. -Les S. from Australia

I loved Chet Atkins and had the honor of seeing him play live when I was very young. He was one of my early inspirations on guitar. I’ve never played with Tommy Emmanuel but would love to see him play live one day.

I still can’t figure out how you came up with the overdriven backing line in the song “One of These Nights.” Was that overdrive AND distortion? Thanks for years of enjoyment, Jim P.

Jim, I get this question a lot. It was just a Les Paul and an early 50′s tweed deluxe amp on 10. As a matter of fact, I still use that amp today, most recently for songs on my upcoming CD. I never use distortion pedals in the studio.

Among Steve from Wisconsin’s questions about slide guitar was whether or not you play slide in open tuning.

I play slide in both open tuning and in E tuning as well. One of the best slide players I’ve come across in a very long time is Kirk Lorange, who lives in Australia. He’s a monster and plays in standard tuning with a combination of slide and fretted notes at the same time. Check him out on YouTube.”

Tom from Kansas asked, “Several years ago I bought an old Harmony H79 12-string with a very road-worn case. The guitar is in near perfect shape except where someone scratched “Felder” on the body by the input jack. Could it have been one of your earlier guitars?”

I don’t recall ever owning a Harmony guitar, much less a 12-string version. I would never have scratched the name Felder into the body as I loved every guitar I ever owned and would never have mutilated it that way. Don’t know who would have done that but certainly not me!

Mark from Wales asked, “On the rhythm track for “I Can’t Tell You Why” do you use a delay to get the repeated chords?”

Yes, that is an old Echoplex set to the exact delay speed as the tempo of the song. I played each chord once and let the echo do the magic.

Dusan wrote in asking if Don remembers which type of acoustic guitars he and the other Eagles band members used on recordings.

We used many different acoustic guitars on the records. Bernie Leadon had some excellent acoustic guitars and I used mostly my 1965 Martin D-35. Once Bernie left the band my D-35 became the “GO TO” acoustic when we needed one.

Toni wanted to know if Glenn plays anything on the original version of Hotel California or if he’s just singing background vocals.

I really can’t recall what he played but it would have been either a reggae part (which I think Joe replaced) or another acoustic (which Glenn played on stage.)

“There are harmonized (lead) guitars in One Of These Nights (throughout the song) and Too Many Hands (choruses). Who played them? Thanks again,” – Toni

In those days Glenn and I played most of the electric harmony guitar parts.

“Don, I’ve heard some rumors that you played a BC Rich Seagull back in the day – is that true? God bless you and greets from Croatia,” – Luca

I was given a BC Rich Seagull back in the early 70′s. One of my good friends who was very poor but a good player needed an electric guitar so I gave him my BC Rich. It was blue and played great, but I had enough guitars and he didn’t!

“Don, first of all, thanks for many years of enjoyment. On the live recording of Hotel California during the solo, you slid your pick down the strings. Then you hit an “A” chord. That has to be the best tone I’ve ever heard! Please confirm that was a Marshall. My friends don’t think so, but I don’t think a tweed sounds like that. Thanks again,” – Ken S.

I really can’t recall exactly what amp I used in the video. I had been using either a Fender Tweed Deluxe or a Fender Black Face Deluxe (like the reissues they make today) with a Vox Silver Bell speaker. I (also) used a 50 watt Marshall and a 4×12 slant cabinet with 2 12′ speaker taken out for a while.

“On your high gain songs on your records what do you keep the pre-gain and low settings on? Come to Atlanta,” – Scott

On my old recordings I never used a pre-gain amp. Mostly I used an old Fender Tweed Deluxe amp and maybe a chorus pedal or Echoplex. I used one of the new Vox AC 30′s in the studio on my new CD and loved it.

Larry P: Hi Don. There is a picture of you and your daughter playing a live show. What is the model of Fender amp (next to the Marshall amp) you are using? Is there anything special about that particular model?

Don: “This is a Fender Vibrolux Re-Issue with two 10-inch speakers. I had used one in the UK (which is 220V instead of 110V) and it was amazing. The US versions are good but not as “hot” as the UK version.

Phil P.: What year is your old Fender Tweed Deluxe? If you’re not sure, can you tell me if it’s early, mid or late 50′s? I also understand that you play(ed) Blackface Deluxes. Were these reverb or non-reverb (and do you have a preference?) Do you still play these amps, or do you play re-issues of them? Thank you so much for yor patience and kindness with your guitar fans.

Don “I used and still use Fender Tweed Deluxe amps. My favorite one that I used on “Hotel California” and “One of These Nights” is a mid-50′s model. I also played a Blackface Deluxe (non-reverb) with a Vox Silver bell speaker in it.On the road I now use a Blackface Deluxe Reverb (re-issue) as they are very easy to find and can take a beating and keep on ticking.

Paul H.: Hello Don. I am in a 10-year-old Eagles tribute band called Another Tequila Sunrise. “Those Shoes” came out and the talk box parts seem to be so hard to replicate… Did you and Joe [Walsh] do them together, or were the parts done by Joe and overdubbed? Any hints on achieving this sound? Thanks.

Don: “Joe and I played these talk box parts live. As a matter of fact the entire track with exception of the vocals was recorded live with the entire band.My best suggestion for sound is get a small amp and a Frampton Talkbox and tune the gain up a lot so you get MAX sustain but not so loud to hurt yourself. That tone is all about sustain and not volume.

Arjuna De S.: I would really appreciate if you could tell me what guitar effect pedals you used in the “Hotel California” lead solo and if you use any special effects while you play 12-string guitar. Thank you and regards.

No effects pedals on the Hotel California solo. Just my ’59 Les Paul into a Fender tweed mid 50′s Deluxe on 10. I recorded the acoustic 12-string with a microphone and installed a pickup in the “O” hole which was run into a Leslie (organ) cabinet and placed 2 mics on it (left & right) to make it stereo as the horn turns.

Adrian from Toronto: Don, any chance that you once owned a white Ibanez 2402 double neck 6 and 12 (1974) because the one I purchased in California a few years ago also has 2 output jacks. I’ve never seen any others like this as it is wired rather oddly. Thanks!

I’ve never owned an Ibanez double neck. Someone could have seen the logic in having two outputs as I did and wired it accordingly.

Stephen B.: Hi Don. I played with Joe W. in the 80′s. I am used to searing guitar, but I saw you play in ’95 and when you played the intro to “Victim of Love,” I was surprised as you blew my hair back with an incendiary tone from a Strat. What pickups do you use? Are they Lace Sensors and if so, what model?

Those are Lace Sensor pickups but wired with only a single volume pot left in the circuit. All other circuitry has been removed. No tone pots etc., only pickups, pickup selector switch and volume.

Jake McD.: Your 1959 Les Paul Standard with the beautiful Heritage Cherry Sunburst is the MOST BEAUTIFUL instrument I have ever seen. I’m curious where that beauty is today and how often you play it. Thanks, Mr. Felder, for inspiring me.

Thank you for your kind words! My original 1959 Les Paul is safely stored away in a high security location. I still play it quite often and used it on my latest CD “Road To Forever.” I’ve used it on nearly every record I’ve made but no longer take it on the road.

Don, being that you are my favorite guitarist I want a tone similar to yours…I’m looking for a new amp and I’m really unsure what kind of amp I want. I understand that now you use a Fender reverb deluxe. Do you think that is a good amp for me being that I play classic rock? – Evan

The Fender Deluxe Reverb 65 Reissue is a very workable amp. You should play it yourself and determine if it fits your style and tone.
I’ve found often that it’s NOT the amp or the guitar that someone uses but the hands that are playing it and what they are playing that makes it sound great or not. Tone for amps is like picking what kind of car you drive. How much you can afford, how practical (or not) you are, mileage, style, function etc. It’s a very personal choice and you and only YOU should make that decision. Good luck!

Don’s comments last updated: 06 Sep 14

Don is featured in the October 2014 digital edition of Vintage Guitar magazine. Vintage Guitar is offering a free digital download of the issue for desktop, iTunes, Android and Amazon Kindle users.

Don quick references his favorite amps and pedals at

Don shares his live show amp and guitar setup in Guitar and Bass (11/2013)

Don picks 10 essential guitar albums via Music Radar. (3/2014)

Hotel California is listed as one of the essential guitar tunes played with a capo. Don explains how it came to that. (3/2014)

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